Instagram Rolls Out "Private Likes" On Stories

Sneaky link, meet sneaky like.

Originally Published: 
A woman in a white hijab likes a friend's Instagram story. Instagram is testing "private likes" on s...
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The Instagram story terrain can be a tricky one. Sure, when it comes to your IRL pals’ stories (especially your close friends’ Close Friends stories), you might take a lot of liberty in swiping up to reply. But what about when that sort-of-friend/acquaintance posts a hilarious take on the “Add Yours” sticker trend? Do you send a laughing emoji from the swipe-up menu, or is that cringe? And what about your love interest’s sharing their very telling Spotify Wrapped, which just so happens to almost completely overlap with your own? Surely you can’t swipe past and miss the opportunity to connect, but the distance between swiping away and boldly taking it to the DMs can feel like a no man’s land.

If you’ve been desperately seeking for a casual happy medium to engage with your favorite Instagram stories, your prayers may be answered with Instagram stories’ new private like feature. Back in January, Instagram began testing the option with select users, and on Feb. 14, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri posted a video sharing that private likes are now available for everyone. In the appropriately Valentine’s Day-themed video, Mosseri explained that private likes will now show up between the “send message” and “share” icon at the bottom of your screen while watching Instagram stories. The like will show up in the views of the story, rather than in your DMs, which will cut down on the notifications you get. So, you get all of the loving support of an Instagram like, and all of the coyness of a low-effort grid post double tap.

Much like the swipe-up emoji reactions and option to respond to a story, when someone privately likes an Instagram story, TechCrunch reported that this information will only be shown to the user who posted the story. So, private likes will mostly operate as a new way for users to connect over story content, rather than functioning as a kind of public engagement metric (as with, you know, public likes). Users can, however, see the total number of likes they receive on a story, which may be helpful to content creators who are looking to boost engagement on their stories.

If you don’t have the ability to receive private likes on your stories, or like others’ stories, it means that the feature has not yet been rolled out to you. You can try updating your app, closing in and out of the program, or restarting your phone to see if that helps spur the feature along. Until it’s on your phone, you’ll just have to keep engaging with stories with the tools available to you — whether that means swiping past with a mysterious indifference, embracing your inner millennial by using pre-selected emoji reactions, or entering your Facebook aunt era and responding to every story you see.

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